Medication stigma and friends

So today I decided to tell a friend about my psychiatrist appointment tomorrow and the first thing they could say was: “don’t let them put you on meds, there are alternatives”, continuing with the fact that that’s the only thing psychiatrists do, prescribe you meds and they are not a solution to fix psychological “dysfunctions”, they are only masking the problem and do more harm than good due to the side effects. When I brought up my older sister’s situation, being on epilepsy meds for the last 8 years, they started to send me links with natural treatments for it. My mother today told me the same, that maybe there are ways to deal with it without medication, she’s also not seeing it as a real problem. I feel really discouraged and let down. How do you deal with family and friends judging you over your choices of being medicated?


I think it’s hard to change people’s minds, especially when they’ve had them made up based on bad information or their own bias. You can do what you can to try to educate them, but it’s good to remind yourself that they may just not be able to understand and may not be the best support for you.

In terms of helping educate them, though, you can try to refer them to organizations like CHADD or ADDA or even HowToADHD. There are a few informational sites out there that offer information on how to talk to people about your ADHD, but it’s usually to help them understand how to accommodate you or understand the disorder, not to convince them that medication is important.

Mostly I’d say decide how much you want these people involved in your life and your care. If it’s important that they be a part of it, let them know what you need and don’t need. “I want you to be a part of my support network, but I’ll handle the medication issues with my doctor. Thank you for your concern about it, but that’s not how I need you to be helpful to me. You can help in other ways.” It’s not easy to have people who have strong opinions and make you feel shamed, judged or invalidated. But some people aren’t able or willing to learn what is important about ADHD and ADHD treatment. Try not to exhaust yourself or deal with that stress if you don’t have to.

Also, remember that you’re right for getting treatment and you will always have support here and within the community.


I will follow your advice. That really is helpful. Thank you so much!


Anti-med sentiments are an unfortunate thing that is very common. It reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger effect. A lot of people are really poorly informed and know very little about the topic, but they are very confident in their dodgy ideas.

Some of the “alternate ways to handle it” really do have benefits, so some of your mother/friend’s recommendations might be worth considering as an addition rather than a replacement for meds, but some of the alternatives are just nonsense.

@quietlylost gives great advice and it lines up with what has worked best for me in practice. If you can identify friends and family who are more science-minded you might find some candidates for people that would be good for these kinds of conversations.


I went to my dentist today. He said I had done a good job brushing and flossing my teeth over the past year, since last time I saw him. He was proud of me. I told him I would no longer let him put me on toothpaste and dental floss. There are alternatives to allowing those artificial substances to enter my body.


Medication is a choice. Can be helpful. Or not. If recommended by a competent prescriber, in whom you have confidence, it might be worth trying. Family and friends, I think could be more helpful if they supported you (if they can). And if unable to, keep out of the way!


If you want to try the subtler way of gradually getting hem io understand you, you can try starting your reply with an agreement.

So when my friends asked me if I was going to use medication I said I was proceeding with caution because yes, I had heard all that stuff too, and I was concerned about the possible negative effects too. I explained what had convinced me to give them a try, namely lots of research, and finally finding (online) several sensible-sounding adult women, ie my own demographic, who talked about the benefits to them. And I explained what had caused me to seek help in the first place, and that I was asking lots of questions and getting therapy to help too, and that I could and would stop if the benefits weren’t worth it to me.

They all said they were worried if turn into some kind of a zombie and I asked them to tell me immediately if they saw that happening :grin:.

In fact, now it’s been over a year I should ask them again what changes they see. I have noticed that I experience less extreme emotional responses which would cloud my judgement, but those weren’t particularly helpful to anyone. I still get excited and sad about stuff, probably still more than the average person. So when they also said ‘we don’t want you to change’, I did say that actually, I was hoping to change a bit, so that I could cope with myself better. It was a good discussion.

And it’s true that medication doesn’t solve much on its own. The therapy and coaching achieved more, but what the medication does is allow me to implement the behavioural changes they guided me through.

So these friends may or mae not have changed their minds about adhd meds in general, I don’t know (I will ask them that too! :sweat_smile:), but they have remained supportive of me, and that matters to me more.

I also know that I got a more balanced view of anti-depressants when a dear friend told me she took them and why. It didn’t make me want to take ssri’s myself (getting off then is still problematic for most people, and other solutions have worked for me because I am not her etc). But it did make me realise how they can benefit peeple, and it stopped me from being so judgemental about why people take them.

Oh. I also decided not to even start this discussion with my parents :joy:. That’s a choice, too.


Yeah I don’t tell most people. I live with (and sometimes take care of) my parents, who are in their eighties, but I have informed them about neither 1. my diagnosis of ADHD nor 2. whichever medications I’m on at whichever time. I do keep a list of all my meds in an envelope in the fire-proof box in the bookshelf (same place where there’s a copy of the insurance policies, etc.) so if I have a major medical emergency they can figure out to rip the envelope open to inform the doctors of what I’m on, but otherwise, I don’t want them to know.

I can’t really pinpoint why. Partly, it’s private, I want it to be my own. Partly, I don’t want to risk that they’ll object and I’ll have to be defensive (“that doesn’t exist” or “you could just try harder” or “those medications are addictive” are things I don’t want to have to address). But that’s not all of it. Part of it simply is, who the heck are they to be informed about my stuff? They haven’t asked, they probably don’t know what to ask, and mostly, it’s my burden not theirs. Similarly, I’m uninformed about other people’s burdens. I don’t know my mother’s weight every moment of the year, or my next door neighbor’s prostate condition, or whether or not the new mother down the block is breast-feeding or bottle-feeding her baby, or who in my high school class just got a bunion removed. Why should anyone else know what’s properly only between me and my doctor? I wonder. Am I scared of telling? Do I mistrust it? Somewhere deep down in my psyche, do I simply not believe my doctor’s diagnosis? Hmmm …